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Clinton's new mentoring initiative is based on Penn and Philadelphia outreach programs. President Clinton unveiled an initiative Wednesday to give children from poor families a chance to pair up with mentors, tutors and counselors. The intent of the $140 million plan is to gear students toward college from as early as grade six. For Penn, such programs are old hat. The Kite and Key Society's Step-One tutoring project, which pairs University students with Philadelphia grade schoolers, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Penn students work with children at Lea Elementary School at 47th and Locust streets, meeting weekly to tutor them in math and reading, among other subjects. Ninety-two percent of Lea's 1,100 students are at or below the poverty level. They are able to look to their tutors as success stories. Additionally, the University's West Philadelphia Tutoring Project has been providing academic and social support for children in grades K-12 for the last 11 years. Involving over 370 University students, the program lends help to children often living in single family homes at or below the poverty line. Studies have shown that the average amount spent per pupil in Philadelphia is $2,000 less than the average spent in surrounding suburban districts. The city's schools simply don't have the money to provide students with an adequate education, and it is clear that they are in need of vast improvement. But in the interim, Penn volunteers are helping to make up the difference through their outreach efforts. We hope the president's plan meets with similar success.

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